Acoustic Bat Ecology
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Habitat use has been examined by bat researchers for several decades but still little is known about habitat associations and influence (Krusic and Neefus, 1995). Only during the summer months does Wisconsin sustain ecosystems that support active bat populations, whereas they hibernate for the remainder of the year in both local and migratory areas (Krusic et al. 1995). Thus, to gain a deeper understanding of bats’ interaction with their surrounding landscape and ecosystem, several different habitat studies were conducted during the summer months within southeast Wisconsin. Relative activity of the bat species found within Wisconsin was measured through the means of acoustic monitoring. Eight different bat species reside in Wisconsin, and they all echolocate and are potentially detectable, though species determination through echolocation call is not always possible. The species that were possible to detect included Myotis lucifugus (Little Brown Myotis), Myotis septentrionalis (Northern Long-eared Bat), Perimyotis subflavus (Tricolored Bat), Eptesicus fuscus (Big Brown Bat), Lasiurus borealis (Eastern Red Bat), Lasiurus cinerus (Hoary Bat), Lasionycteris noctivagans (Silver-haired Bat), Myotis sodalis (Indiana Bat). Our primary objective was to monitor bat activity at standing water as compared to moving water sites, with the assumption of more activity at standing sites. Our secondary objective was to monitor bat activity in areas of various levels of building development, with the assumption of more activity in areas with greater developed building structure than in areas of non-developed building structure. This hypothesis was formed from previous studies that have suggested that bats are more active in urban environments than rural environments (Ghert, S. D., Chelsveg, J. E., 2003). Looking at habitat correlations with bat activity allows for a general census to be gathered on approximate bat locations which will aid in building a model for future research questions, management efforts and conservation efforts. Since there have been relatively few research excursions of this nature, this research is meant to provide a basis for others to continue studies. Similarly, the focus on habitat correlation with bat activity in our small study area in southeastern Wisconsin can perhaps be applied to the larger geographical area of the Midwest.